A short review of a cautionary tale

Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences by Edward Tenner

"Even when used to better the world, technology fosters unforeseen, often undesired consequences that Tenner calls 'revenge effects.'

For example, air-conditioned subways raise platform temperatures by as much as 10 degrees F; some computer users get painful, wrist-numbing carpal tunnel syndrome; flood control systems encourage settlement of flood-prone areas, inviting disaster; 6% of all hospital patients become infected with microbes they encounter during their stay.

Tenner, a historian of science & visiting researcher at Princeton, looks at revenge effects that pop up in medicine,sports, the computerized office & the environment.

Tenner's cautionary conclusion: revenge effects demand ingenuity and brain-power as technology continues to replace life-threatenting problems with slower-acting, more persistent ones."

(excerpt from Publishers' Weekly, 15 Apr. 1996, p.57)